There are fears that the market which accommodates tens of thousands of people is now faced with another round of pollution from the septic tank. Findings indicate that the Nigeria Prisons Enugu built in 1915 to accommodate 630 inmates, now has close to 2000 of them resulting in the old structure being overstretched. This could be the reason its septic tank is overflowing into the Ogbete Main Market.
A visit to the market showed that the waste was still flowing freely into the market making the entire area non-conducive for business. The areas affected are C and T railway lines, S line walkway and the expressway down to the meat section through where it enters other places. Acknowledging the strategic nature of the market, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who visited the area five months ago following a report on the spill assured the traders that respite would come their way.
Some traders in an interview said they had been paid some amount to ensure that solution was found to the problem.
“Governor came last time and told us that everything would be repaired because it is still running every day. You can see that nobody is passing here. There is no customer, when they reach here they will just move. They will say oh this thing is still coming out.”
“Nothing like intervention; when we saw the Governor came then we believed that everything will be over, nothing. It is only a friend behind there that volunteered his money and started laying pipe before OMATA collect 300, 300 naira from those affected and now the thing has blocked. It is disturbing us and since this year we have not made sales.”
“We even contributed 300 naira for something to be done but the pipe busted and the sewage is still flowing every day.”
Mr. Cagethan Chime and Mrs. Joy Okoli came to make some purchases described the situation hazardous and as an epidemic in the waiting.
“The air is polluted, everywhere is uncomfortable. It is unconducive for the sellers even the buyers and it’s a health hazard so governor should do something about this.”
“That place is very very dirty, so government should come and help. The odour coming out is something else.”
The Secretary Ogbete Main Market Traders Association, Mr. Philip Ikeji said they were yet to see any positive outcome from the governor’s visit.
“The members of the technical team were able to map out plans on how to rehabilitate the conveniences inside the prison yard. After that we submitted a report to the Commissioner for Environment. But most unfortunately nothing has been done relative to stopping the inflow of human waste; both the liquid and solid into the market from the prison yard. The intervention we needed even after the governor’s visit was not given.”
In a telephone interview, the controller Nigeria Persons Enugu State Command, Mr. Ifeanyi Amaleri confirmed that that not so much had been done to stop the spill.
“Nothing is working out from the committee. They stopped somewhere. It is because it is dry season, if it were in the rainy season it would have been worse.”
The market is under the Enugu North Local Government Council, the Transition Committee Chairman of the Council, Mr. Isaac Igwe explained that efforts were on to solve the problem.
“since I have known of this, we are going to look into it as a matter of urgency.”
The Chairman of the seven man technical committees is the State Commissioner for Environment, Chief Fidel Ayogu who said he was indisposed to speak on the matter.
A human rights lawyer Mr. Nwabueze Ugwu admonished the State Government to address the matter urgently as the primary responsibility of government was the welfare of the people.
“If the government has allowed the situation such as is facing the people of Ogbete Main Market, how then are they conforming to section 20 of the constitution? In fact, section 17 sub-section 14 says every human being in Nigeria has a right to life. If there is a breakdown of disease, nobody knows who will be the victim.
Mr. Nwabueze urged the Enugu North Local Government Chairman to follow up the matter to a logical conclusion.
BY CHINELO OZOALOR